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Chicago Bulls 101, Dallas Mavericks 78: Just When I Think I’m Out…

November 29th, 2012 at 11:45 AM
By Caleb Nordgren

I'm getting fed up with this team.

The Chicago Bulls, fresh off an epic 27-point collapse on Monday, decided to dispense with the collapse and do what they were doing for the first two and a half quarters against the Milwaukee Bucks: beat the crap out of their opponents.

I'm getting fed up with the Bulls because I no longer have any idea what to expect from them. Yes, the Dallas Mavericks aren't all that good without Dirk Nowitzki — and they were also without point guard Darren Collison last night — but did anyone really see this kind of beatdown coming? 

Furthermore, the new bench unit did this thing last night where they decided to not suck. It was weird, especially coming on the heels of Wednesday's game, where Nazr Mohammed and Marco Belinelli were handed DNP-CDs and Jimmy Butler, Nate Robinson and Taj Gibson combined to play just 40 minutes. And suddenly, there Mohammed was, throwing down a nasty one-handed alley-oop/putback slam to send the crowd home with free Big Macs. You can decide for yourselves whether you think Marquis Teague was passing or shooting there. 

A number of people were pushing a narrative where the vets on the bench were pissed off because they felt they were being disrespected or something and that's why they played well. I have a couple of problems with that.

First, since when has Tom Thibodeau had any problems whatsoever with keeping everyone on the same page about playing time? After juggling 11 man rotations the last two years — 12, really — and having precisely none of those players complain about their court time, why should that suddenly change? Thibs generally varies his rotation from game to game based on who is playing well and who's not. That's what happened Monday. How is this different from Carlos Boozer — who only played 18 minutes last night, by the way — sitting out entire fourth quarters virtually every time the game is close? 

Second, this was one game against a not-great team. Let's give it a little more time before we decide these guys are suddenly good again.

And third, this performance screams 'statistical noise' to me. Butler has been solid to excellent all year and he had one of his best games. Nate is really hit or miss, and this happened to be one of his 'hit' games. Taj has disappointed overall, but it's not like he's been bad or anything and he's still a really good player. So really, the only players who were significantly better than normal were Belinelli and Mohammed. And while it is somewhat statistically unlikely that they would both randomly happen to play well on the same night, it's not exactly impossible. And what's really more likely? That two veterans playing poorly would suddenly flip a switch and become quality players because they didn't play in one game? Or that two veterans playing poorly would randomly and coincidentally play well in the same game? My money's on the first one, personally.

Anyway, the Bulls looked like themselves for one night, and it was kind of a lot of fun. I hadn't realized how much I missed seeing a bench lineup blow a close game open until last night. Don't expect it to happen again any time soon, but it's something, at least.

And the Bulls are back to .500! So, you know, there's that.

Player o' the Game: Joakim Noah, 13 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks.

Joakim continues to do exactly what he's been doing: crashing the boards, playing defense and presenting a well-rounded offensive game that still seems to be catching teams off guard. He's stepping up without Derrick Rose around, and his consistency has helped balance out Boozer's inconsistency. Actually, Boozer's been so inconsistent it almost qualifies him to become the large version of Nate Robinson, minus the incessant dribbling.

Tags: Carlos Boozer, Chicago, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Derrick Rose, Dirk Nowitzki, Jimmy Butler, Joakim Noah, Nazr Mohammed, NBA, Tom Thibodeau

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